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Re: Flattening Microdata

From: Antonia Rosati <arosati@ucar.edu>
Date: Wed, 08 Aug 2012 10:07:36 -0600
To: "LeVan,Ralph" <levan@oclc.org>, "Sandhaus, Evan" <sandhes@nytimes.com>, "Public Vocabs" <public-vocabs@w3.org>
Cc: mayernik@ucar.edu
Message-ID: <web-41843295@mail.ucar.edu>
Ralph, I will back you up.

During my summer work in the NCAR library marking up metadata with RDF 
and schema.org, I came across a couple of "how-to" and "best 
practices" articles stating that schema.org cannot/should not be used 
strictly with the <meta> tag, and certainly not only in the header.

I wanted to do this for one of my case studies, but moved away from it 
(without experimenting) because of these recommendations. In the end, 
the only downfall I saw was that the HTML was less human-readable.

Toni Rosati
NARCCAP User Community Liaison
National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)

On Wed, 8 Aug 2012 11:57:25 -0400
  "LeVan,Ralph" <levan@oclc.org> wrote:
  Evan, could you explain why you want to do this?
  My understanding is that this is discouraged behavior.  Search
  don't trust metadata that isn't visible to users.  The library
  got very excited about using meta tags years ago and then discovered
  that they were being ignored.
  Could someone else verify my understanding of the meta tag?
  Ralph LeVan
  Research Scientist
From: Sandhaus, Evan [mailto:sandhes@nytimes.com]
  Sent: Wednesday, August 08, 2012 11:44 AM
  To: Public Vocabs
  Subject: Flattening Microdata
  Hello all!
  I'm interested in 'flattening' schema.org <http://schema.org/>
  markup into the <head> element using <meta> elements.  In theory one
  should be able to use the "itemref" and "id" attributes to 'flatten'
  object hierarchy into a set of metatags - but in practice this leads
  unexpected results.
For example:
  Suppose we have a NewsArticle with the headline 'A Test Headline'
  has a creator that is a Person that has the name 'Evan S Sandhaus'
  the url 'http://sandha.us'.  Here is an example of how to flatten
  out in the <head> using id and itemref:
  <html itemid='the_article_id' itemscope
                                 <!-- Article properties in global
                                 <meta itemprop='headline' content='A
  Test Headline'/>

                                 <!-- Author Properties Flattened with
  itemref and ids -->
                                 <meta itemprop='creator' itemscope
  itemtype='http://schema.org/Person' itemid='the_creator_id'
  itemref='author_name author_url'/>
                                 <meta id='author_name' 
  content='Evan S Sandhaus'/>
                                 <meta id='author_url' itemprop='url'
  content='http://sandha.us' <http://sandha.us'/> /
<http://sandha.us'/> >
  So that's the theory.
  In practice, however, both the Rich Snippets Tool and the Python
  microdata libraries I'm using locally
  (http://pypi.python.org/pypi/microdata) both insist on adding the
  creator-specific properties to both the scope of both the creator 
  the NewsItem.
  More concretely - my local tools give me this:
     "id": "the_article_id",
     "properties": {
         "creator": [{
             "id": "the_creator_id",
             "properties": {
                 "name": ["Evan S Sandhaus"],
                 "url": ["http://sandha.us <http://sandha.us/> "]
             "type": "http://schema.org/Person"
         "headline": ["A Test Headline"],
         "name": ["Evan S Sandhaus"],
         "url": ["http://sandha.us <http://sandha.us/> "]
     "type": "http://schema.org/NewsItem"
  And the Rich Snippets tool gives me this:
  Type: http://schema.org/newsarticle
  headline = A Test Headline
  creator = Item( 1 )
  name = Evan S Sandhaus
  url = http://sandha.us
  Item 1
  Type: http://schema.org/person
  name = Evan S Sandhaus
  url = http://sandha.us
  So the question is: is this expected behavior?  If so, is there
  I could do besides this to "flatten" the markup into the <head>
  Evan Sandhaus
  Lead Architect, Semantic Platforms
  The New York Times Company
Received on Wednesday, 8 August 2012 22:25:03 UTC

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